Netanyahu dismisses key ally Aryeh Deri after High Court order

Jerusalem | January 22, 2023

In accordance with an Israeli High Court judgement that it was unfair to nominate the Shas party leader to positions in government, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu removed important ally Aryeh Deri from all cabinet roles on Sunday.

Due to his criminal convictions and the fact that he declared he would retire from public life in court the year before to being jailed for tax fraud, the court had stated that Deri’s appointment “cannot stand.”

The decision was reached “with a sad heart, with profound grief,” Netanyahu reportedly told Deri, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s office.

According to police estimates in Israeli media, Deri was fired the day after more than 100,000 people demonstrated in central Tel Aviv against Netanyahu’s administration and its proposed court reforms. Police reported that thousands more protesters demonstrated in Jerusalem and other Israeli towns.

Although there have been protests against Netanyahu’s administration for three weeks, this week saw the biggest attendance.

Yariv Levin, Netanyahu’s justice minister, unveiled a series of judicial reforms earlier this month that would give lawmakers more control over hiring judges and allow the parliament to overrule high court rulings. Deri, who has a criminal record that includes convictions for tax infractions, must be fired, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday. Deri served a suspended sentence and said he would leave public office.

Deri’s Shas party, a major player in Netanyahu’s coalition and the party that won 11 seats in Israel’s 120-seat parliament, the Knesset, in November, retaliated right once, labeling the court’s ruling “arbitrary and unusual.”

The court “today swept away the voices and votes of 400,000 people of the Shas movement,” according to the Sephardi religious party.

“Today, the court declared that the elections have no significance. The party claimed that the court’s judgment was corrupted and politicized.

Deri was convicted of tax fraud, thus the High Court was requested to decide whether it was appropriate legally to nominate him to positions in Netanyahu’s government. His appointment, according to the judges, “cannot stand.”

This is because of his criminal conviction backlog, in addition to the fact that he didn’t leave public life after being sentenced in the tax fraud case as he had promised.

The rally that took place in Tel Aviv on Saturday was attended by opposition leaders including as former Prime Minister Yair Lapid and former defense minister Benny Gantz.

“What you see here today is a pro-state demonstration. According to Lapid’s tweet, “People who love the country came to defend its democracy, courts, and the concept of a common life and a common good.” There are supporters of Israel in this crowd who came to show their support for a democratic Jewish state in line with the principles of the Declaration of Independence. We won’t give up until we succeed.

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